Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Midsummer's Eve

And not very much like Midsummer's Eve either. For the past few days we've had slashing rain, high winds, trees whipping their branches and flowers hanging their sodden heads to the muddy ground. It can't really be the middle of June and the summer solstice. It must be a mistake. Will the real Midsummer please come forward?

Yesterday, as I needed to get new material for a column, we braved the rain and went down to Killarney to interview a jarvey. Jarveys are the men who take visitors around the lakes in horse-drawn jaunting cars.

The first few we tried were shy and very disinclined to be publicised in the paper, but then we saw a possibility bowling along the road by Muckross Abbey, and pulled in to wait for him at his stopping point.

Michael Kenny is one of nature's gentleman. He's been taking visitors around for over twenty years and, although he admits it's hard work these days, since the repair of carts and harness is no longer widespread and therefore far more expensive, he still sees it as the only proper way of life for him. 'We work from March to October, seven days a week. Sure we can always sleep during the winter!' This nice horse is called Philip, and he's part Irish draught, part Connemara. 'I call him Philip because he has royal blood in him, so he has!'

Today is always a busy one chez Celtic Memory since several regular columns have to be written up and sent in. Why, some among you may enquire, are these not spread out over the week, and prepared in advance, since the deadlines are apparently so well known? Well if you're asking that sort of daft question, you are clearly the kind of knitter who only works on one project at a time, for which you buy just enough yarn and no more. And your house is probably tidy too.

Anyway, it being another wild and rainy morning, it was quite pleasant to stay home and work on the computer - resisting the temptation to do just a le-e-tle bit of surfing and checking out on blogs and new yarns. By lunchtime, though, exhaustion was setting in (you'd be surprised how hard it can be to find just the right words to express something, while still keeping the overall piece within the strict space limits), and working on the French Market Bag was a welcome diversion.

It doesn't really look like anything much, does it, at this stage? A big sloppy heap of boring knitting would about describe it. Maybe it'll be better once it's been given the what-for in the washing machine. If not there'll be trouble. Finally reached the enormous stitch count required for the base, and currently galloping up the sides towards the handles, but it is taking quite a lot of time. If I don't get it finished tonight, though, Something Else will intrude, and it might never see the felting stage.

Because tomorrow, being Midsummer, sees the start of Summer of Socks and Celtic Memory has to be out there at dawn, needles sharpened and yarn at the ready. And there is a quandary (isn't there always?). The socks currently OTN, Pomotamus, though utterly lovely, don't count for this event as they were already started before the Solstice. The intention had been to cast on some stunning green and silver cabled socks, thereby enabling the ticking off of both the Harry Potter KAL and Summer of Socks (did you notice that cool button on the sidebar? How daft can I get, joining another KAL? But who could resist Harry Potter? And of course I opted for Slytherin House. Somebody has to show how maligned, how misjudged those marvellous people are!),

So the way forward seemed really clear for once, but then disaster struck. I was gifted Socks by the adorable Deb of The Woolley Farm, and now -

I really really want to do THESE

in THIS.

I made a throwaway remark in my last posting about this divine yarn from Knitivity being ideal for the kind of kneesocks you could flash at a bishop, but the idea took hold. That pattern and this yarn together would make a pair of lacy hose so devastating they would topple an entire cathedral, let alone a bishop. It must be something Ray of Knitivity puts into the dyepot. I don't know where he gets those divine colours. Divine, that's it! Fit for a bishop. Oh the guilt, the torments. Do I go green, do I go wicked pink? Where's it all to end?

By the time a few inches had been worked on the French Market Basket and the skein of wicked pink wound off into two balls (well, just in case, it doesn't mean anything, look the green yarns are wound up too - oh they're not, well they will be, honestly), it was time to get dressed up and go out to a theatrical performance. A theatrical performance which was to take place on a naval base some 35 miles away. A theatrical performance which was to take place out of doors on a naval base some 35 miles away on possibly the worst night of bad weather County Cork had seen in centuries, and which wasn't going to start until 10 pm.

I looked at DH. He looked at me. We both looked out at the wild windy rainswept garden. I went upstairs. I changed into a long velvet skirt, wrapped a rope of pearls around my warm poloneck - and settled in for a nice evening at home.

Is there anything as delightful, as comfortable, as an evening at home when you really thought up to the last minute that you were scheduled to spend it somewhere else? Somehow you relish every minute that bit more.

The evening was not entirely peaceful, though. Crisis on the landing. This, you will recall, is where Tasha keeps her tiny tent, her yurt, to which she retires when she wants, a la Garbo, to be left alone. The other two know the rules perfectly well. Number One Dog Has Her Own Yurt.

But this evening something went seriously awry. I heard snarls, grows, mutterings, and went up to investigate.

Shock, horror! Muffy, Muffy the Yarnslayer, who usually can't find her way out of a paper bag, much less into a confined space, had somehow managed to get into Tasha's private domain. There she sat, glowering triumphantly, while Tasha pleaded eloquently for reprisal and Sophy, ever the peacemaker, looked upset. League of Nations, where are you when you're really needed?

Sophy was actually upset before this incident, since she had had to have a bath. She had come in from rolling happily in the garden (yes, in the pouring rain) and it became immediately apparent that there was Something Narsty in the Shrubbery. She stank to high heaven. Shades of Muffy last summer (if you can't remember that posting, don't go looking it up, for heaven's sake, it isn't a pretty story). Oh dear. Major clearing up obviously on the agenda once this confounded rain stops.

But wait. Is the shrubbery perhaps an official rabbit graveyard? The last resting place of elderly bunnies? If so, what to do? Clear the bushes? Put up rows of tiny tombstones? Hold multi-belief ceremonies? It's so difficult to know the right action to take, isn't it?


Unknown said...

Years ago, my DH's cousin raised white poodles. Unfortunately he lived near cattle pastures...
Those white dogs loved the fresh cow manure to roll and roll in so there would be little green stinky things to put into baths (maybe 11 dogs). They would be so upset after that they would hide under beds and not come out for at least 24 hours.

I'd put up memorial stones and have non-denominational words - if any.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing so much of your life! I look forward every evening to checking in with you and your latest adventures - knitting and otherwise. I am the owner of a crazy canine who the other night rolled in something yucky beyond words. A bath didn't help much, and we couldn't let her into the house. Luckily it was warm enough for her to sleep on the enclosed porch until she was brought to our local pet groomers for a special deodorizing treatment to restore her to her usual beauty and charm. She returned home smelling of peaches!

Peg-woolinmysoup said...

Michael Kenny - can you get much more Irish than that? I love the name and the horse and cart - I'd prefer it in sunshine, however!
Chez Celtic Memory Yarns - long velvet skirts and pearls - that sounds so dignified. Did you have a wee dram to accompany this evening?
I love the socks you are wearing - what is the pattern?
The pink is beautiful too - another KAL? There is one at Fun Knits - you would hardly notice one more, Jo. Big grin!!
We always used the Church of England Common Book of Prayer to settle things when I was little!

Anonymous said...

OOOOh I very much look forwarding to reading your SOS07 blogs. (It's Jen,your Blog Reader) We haven't had much summer here in Holland either, save for the last two days. Here's hoping it stays!

Victoria said...

beee uuu teee ful socks :-) what a lovely gift...

that is one serious looking picture of the fur children..they look mighty serious...

oh Sophy's U.S. Nevada boyfriend (Patches the amazing Shitzu) says to say "Hiya cutie! sniffles and snuffles to you." :-P~~~

as for the bunny tombstones they could say "Here lies Mr. (Miss, Mrs.) Bunny of the Wild, he (she) lived well and his (her) cute fuzziness will be missed in the world." May they rest in peace in bunny heaven (poor dears)

btw thought i love reading about your travels and seeing your gorgeous photographs you dont write much when you are gone so i for one am glad you are home. i really enjoy reading your words and miss them when they are gone :-)

one last note...when are your travels bringing you the states...specifically the wild west. i want to treat you to a fun and crazy evening with some crazy in the mountains knitters! :-)

Angeluna said...

I do love it when you wander around close to home and let us know what's going on chez Celtic Memory. I remember the first Jarvey photos from the Muckross pilgrimage last year. Quite charming, and Michael Kenny is a darling of a man, he is.

Oh, the dogs on the landing, having had their tri-lateral peace talks and failed, calling in an arbitrator to set things right. You can just read their sweet little faces, it's all there.

Great socks!

Isn't it tomato juice which is supposed to remove unpleasant smells from small hairy things?

Now I understand all the KALs. You are just collecting the buttons! You must tell me how. I have failed to import them so far.
As for the rabbit graveyard, little headstones, remember that blog which talked about the fairy doors all over the city? Something like that. As for services, considering who you are, must be truly Celtic cause nothing else would be right.

Holly said...

The weather here was similar to yours, and it has continued to rain today.

I have only two socks on needles at present, the better to be prepared for summer of socks.

The teens are cleaning for me right now, and washing the retriever is next on their list.

I think there is as much psychic sharing among the dogs as there is between us and projects over the internet

Anonymous said...

Hi Jo! I have been visiting your blog for a while now on the recommendation of Mrs. Cornflower. It is an absolute delight to read and I always come away with a smile, if not a good laugh. I enjoy your tales of the extraordinary lives of ordinary people, the Celtic folklore, your interesting travels, the beautiful photos (compliments to your husband), and your knitting adventures. Thank you for sharing so much with your readers. As for the Watermeon Ice knee socks, well I think they would probably turn the head of a cardinal!

LaurieM said...

Oh you're funny. I wonder if you've got a touch of ADD.

Plant rose bushes on the bunny graveyard. They'll grow beautifully on the fertilized soil, the bunnies won't mind the thorns, but it may keep the dogs out.

Personally, I'd love to have roses planted over my resting place.

Anonymous said...

Love the socks! Actually, I have used that lace pattern to make a pair of merino/silk homespun socks.

I had to bathe my Clancy the other day, too. You would think it would be easier to bathe a dog that can't walk, after all they can't run away, but it is awful to try and thoroughly rinse a dog that can't stand. My back was screaming by the time I got all of the soap off of him while supporting him with one hand while holding the shower hose thing with the other.

Thank you for the reports of your travels. I really enjoy them.

Martina said...

What beliefs system would bunnie shave? The great carrot in the sky perhaps. Lucky dogs to have their own yurts! I have always wanted a yurt!

Martina said...

Bunnie shave? What the heck is that! Finger dyslexia again..sorry! s/b.. bunnies have. I think I should start previewing my comments!

Anonymous said...

That sock pattern is the very first socks that I ever made!

Val Grainger said...

I just love this blog.........if you ever want some wool just ask!
I am going to put a link to you on my blog and website as everyone has to read this!!!


Dez Crawford said...

Oh, what a fine horse. You're not telling us what the horse talked to you about, but I know there was a fine conversation between you two. I can tell.

Isn't Ray's yarn divine? I have some Knitivity yarn in worsted, sock and lace weight. He is truly a wizard with color. I not only admire his skills with yarn and dye, but I also deeply admire that he's trying to reinvent himself in Houston after being displaced from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina. I know that someone like you reviewing his yarn will encourage a lot of people to visit his website and shop some of his yarns. His prices are fabulous for the yardage you get, he shipping is cheap, and he also sells unsold orphan skeins or discontinued colors at a good discount for those who do charity knitting. Even with your excellent photography, Jo, one can't really appreciate the depth and richness of Ray's colors until it's actually in your hands.

I just finished some socks for Dave in Ray's "Poolside" colorway (see my next-to-last blog post) --- so glad to be married to a man who wears colors. Dave especially likes cheerful socks.

And yes, Ray is my friend, and I want to see his business succeed, but even if I didn't know him from Jack Sprat, I'd be dead drunk in love with his yarn.

Anonymous said...

I just love reading your lovely blog. I can not thank you enough for sharing! Your travels and knitting are great. I always look forward to reading your blog and the variety of pieces you have written for us!


Ms. Knitingale said...

Love, love, love those socks! I'm dying to know what the pattern is because, you know, I have absolutely nothing else to knit. (Yeah, and my house is tidy, too...giggle, snort.) I sure hope your shrubbery isn't a rabbit graveyard, although I admit to finding a bleached mouse skull when digging in my garden recently. I'm thankful the thing got buried...but still. Ew.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jo,

Back from shepherds' tour...lots to say, but can't find your email, so contacting you this way. Please email me, so I can say what I have to say! It was great meeting you, sorry we didn't have more time to talk. And NOW I find you are a Harry Potter fan AND you bought one of those crazy toy tubular knitting machines. I tried two of them last winter, one wanted fatter yarn than the other. They were fun, but if you lost a stitch, it was a bitch.
Thought about making socks on it, and then decided I had more fun actually knitting them.

Deb almost got arrested on the way home by a security guy who wanted to confiscate some knitting needles of some of our folks. Found them in one shepherd's bag, and Deb quoted international rules, and he countered with, "Oh, yeah, well I have MY rules. Give me the needles." Brandon pulled her off him before he clubbed her and carried her into a dungeon forever. Several other shepherds lost their needles as well. I chickened out and stuffed mine in John's checked bag before it went into the bilge, or wherever checked bags go, on the plane. Then, on the plane, bright as day, is a woman with giant, long, metal knitting needles, knitting away. WE weren't sure whether to kill her in anger and jealousy or celebrate her getting past the needle-police. We opted for the latter.
Interested in pursuing the begun conversation about ley lines, fairy paths, bad mouthing old goddessy earth religions, etc.

AND, what's a KAL?